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Now in its 20th year, Kaleidoscope Records is based in St Helens on Merseyside, almost equidistant between Liverpool and Manchester. Intially run from a market stall, it has operated from the same 500 sq ft shop for the past nine years.

"When we first started, we were purely a collectors' store, selling second-hand rock, punk and indie records", says owner Greg Duggins. "It evolved gradually. First of all we started stocking reissues of hard-to-find vinyl, then we added CDs.

"Nowadays our stock - about 30,000 items - is split almost equally between vinyl and CD, and the ratio of new to second-hand is also about 50:50

"It's a very steady business, and has increased over the years. In the past year, sales of vinyl have gone up. We have always stocked seven-inch vinyl, even when it wasn't fashionable, and now there's great demand for newly-released vinyl seven-inches.

"We are the only indie record shop in town, but face competition from HMV and the supermarkets. Our geographical location can sometimes help us - new limited editions tend to get snapped up very quickly in Liverpool and Manchester but we have them in stock for longer, and people often travel here to get hold of them.

"The most sought-after items are original Sixties psychedelia - increasingly hard to find in good condition - and both doo-wop and rockabilly are growth areas.

"We've had a website for six years and it generates a bit of extra business for us directly from orders over the Internet, and indirectly from people who have seen the site and then come to the shop. We are also a Mojo recommended retailer, so we carry the magazine and take their recommended albums".

Source: Music Week, 12/6/04, p.27 .

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